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Instrument Lessons

We offer private lessons in a variety of instruments including brass, woodwinds, strings and percussion.  Our knowledgeable faculty are committed to providing students of all ages and skill levels with professional and comfortable learning experience. 

What are you waiting for? Give us a call at 419-522-8224 to schedule your lesson today!


Ralph Brown

Saxophone & Clarinet

Ralph Brown received his Masters of Music Education in 1962 from the Vandercook College of Music in Chicago, IL, after completing his Bachelors of Music Education from Westminster College in New Wilimington, PA, in 1952.  Ralph is a veteran of the United States Navy where he served for 4 years.  He comes to Richland Academy with over 50 years of teaching experience. Ralph began his music education journey in Avonworth School in PA. After moving to Ohio, he taught locally at Madison High School for 30 years retiring in 1983 and then taught at Clear Fork Schools for 20 years before retiring again in 2015. In addition to many years of teaching in public schools, Ralph has been a private instructor, worked at Bill’s Music Center in Ashland, OH, and Harvey’s House of Music in Mansfield, OH.  Ralph performed in the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra for 10 years and has played many bands throughout the Mansfield area including: the Percy Hall Band, the Rib Ticklers, and the Stardust Dance Band.



Dominick Febbo

Classical Guitar, Jazz Guitar

Dominick recently graduated from Ashland University with a Bachelor of Music focusing on classical and jazz guitar performance. As an undergrad he mastered pieces by composers such as J.S. Bach, Francisco Tarrega, Isaac Albeniz, and others.  He performs classical solo repertoire, in a small jazz combo, with the Ashland Salvation Army Kroc Center Big Band, and with the Ashland Alumni Jazz Orchestra. Along with playing guitar he also has experience playing bass guitar, harmonica, and drum kit. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, practicing, going to live performances, and relaxing with his cat, Mr. Ghost.



Wes Porter


Wes Porter is a ‘03 graduate of Ashland High School and studied percussion performance at Ashland University and performed with the acclaimed AU Jazz Orchestra. Wes spent much of his early 20’s touring all over the US, Canada, UK, the Middle East, Africa and Australia, much of which as a cultural ambassador with the US State Department. For the last several years Wes has become a first call drummer for Ohio’s top country, rock, blues and Americana artists, and currently records and tours with Ohio based country artist Jacob Lones, and has previously performed with acts such as The DeVault Ridge Band, Mark King and the Roadhouse Band, Atomic Lounge and many others.  




Helga Rein

Violin, Viola, Beginner Piano, Beginner Cello

Helga Rein holds three university degrees in the Arts and Education.  Her journey began in elementary school, shortly after she was introduced to the English language.  She studied violin with Edward Matey, a first violinist in the Cleveland Orchestra, for several years.  Helga earned a full music scholarship and graduated from Cleveland State University with a Bachelor of Music Degree.  She majored in Music Education and Violin Performance.  Helga also minored in Piano Performance, as well as Political Science, Biology, and Psychology.  She continued her studies at Baldwin-Wallace College, where she earned a Master of Arts in Education Degree, as well as a Bachelor of Arts Degree, with a major in German.  Helga teaches students of all ages from six to sixty and all levels from beginner to advanced.  Helga was educated in the United States and Germany, and has taught in both countries.  She is currently teaching music and German in the State of Ohio.  Helga also performs as a soloist for weddings, funerals, memorial services, and other special occasions.Helga received her Bachelor's of Music in 2000 from Cleveland State University and went on to receive her Master's in Arts Education in 2005 from Baldwin-Wallace College. During this time, she received several honors and awards and was involved in numerous orchestras including the Cleveland Philharmonic.
She has been a private music instructor since 1978 and has taught at several schools and colleges throughout Ohio including Wooster and Lexington school districts, Cuyahoga Community College, and Cleveland State University. 


Ricky Mitchell


Ricky is a guitarist, singer/songwriter, producer, and audio engineer from Knoxville, Tennessee. Leaving high school early to hit the stage in 2010, he has produced dozens of tracks and performed hundreds of shows at venues up and down the eastern United States, and developed an appreciation for what it takes to grow musically along the way. He specializes in teaching contemporary electric and acoustic music, and believes teaching, when specialized for each student’s wants and needs, can instill a lifelong passion. Whether the goal is sitting in at the local blues jam, finger-picking through a library of folk songs, mastering techniques and modes, outlining chords, or just strumming around the camp fire, every style can find a place.



Paul Martin-Music Director

Bass-Upright & Electric, Guitar & Saxophone

Paul Martin, a native of Ashland OH, and the Minister of Worship and Music at First Lutheran Church in Shelby, is Music Director at the Richland Academy of the Arts, and serves as the new leader of the Mansfield Jazz Orchestra, the Mansfield Youth Jazz Ensemble, and the creator of the new Majestic Theatre Jazz Concert Series. Paul attended Capital University where he studied jazz arranging under Woody Herman bass trombonist and arranger Vaughn Wiester. He also had the privilege to study jazz bass under Tony Bennett bassist Doug Richeson. Paul then attended Ashland University where he studied saxophone with Dr. Thomas Reed, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Music Education. Paul also was a student at several of the highly regarded Jamey Aeberold Jazz Camp Workshops.

Paul has played for many years with area jazz bands such as the Percy Hall Dance Band, the John Kennedy Band, Leo Jones’ band Mem’ries, Kyle Robbins’ band Ambyr, the Dick Robbins Quartet, and the Jimmy Franck Band. He leads the Paul Martin Jazz Quintet, the Stardust Dance Band, and the Artistic Jazz Orchestra. Paul also has had the unique privilege of performing with some of the finest jazz musicians in the country, including the Las Vegas vocalist/pianist George Bugatti, vocalist Cathi Muckle (the niece of Rosemary Clooney), trumpeter Bobby Shew, and drummer Louise Bellson. Paul is the owner of Paul Martin Music, a publisher of original jazz ensemble music, and is a member of the American Society of Composers and Publishers. Paul is the Vice President, Program Chairman, and founding member of Ashland’s Big Bands and All That Jazz Society. The organization, which has been in existence for 30 years, promotes the finest in Ohio jazz through monthly concerts featuring bands ranging from fine jazz quintets to big bands.  Paul also serves as the President of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 159, and leads the Local 159 Big Jazz Band that performs area summer concerts.


Darrin Thurber

Classical Guitar

Darrin Thurber has over ten years of experience in teaching guitar to individuals of various ages and skill levels. Completing his BA in Guitar Performance at Pacific Union College and his MA in Guitar Performance from San Francisco State University, Darrin is primarily trained in classical and finger-style guitar. Darrin is also proficient in other music styles (e.g. folk, music, jazz, etc.) and  has a passion for helping students become better guitarists while having fun at the same time! 





Lew Friend

Trumpet, Horn, Baritone

Lew received his Bachelors in Business and Music education from Ashland University. Currently he teaches instrumental music along with Rock and Roll History at St. Peter’s. Lew is am originally from Huntington, West Virginia but grew up in Galion, Ohio. He spent nine years in the active duty Army and 11 years in the Ohio Army National Guard. While in the Army Lew was stationed in both Europe and the United States. He retired as a Sergeant in 2008 from the Ohio Army National Guard and started teaching in 1999. Lew enjoys teaching and giving back what I was taught.






Erik Gimbel

Advanced Trumpet

Erik is a native of the Mansfield area, and a graduate of Madison High School.  He completed his undergraduate studies at Capital University in 1992, earning a B.A. in Commercial Music.  While at Capital, he studied trumpet with Ray Eubanks, the longtime artistic director of the Jazz Arts Group of Columbus (now the Columbus Jazz Orchestra). During his time at Capital he also played lead trumpet for the prize winning ‘Big Band Sound, Big Band’ under the direction of former Woody Herman trombonist/arranger, Vaughn Wiester.

When Vaughn Wiester started up a ‘professional’ band in Columbus (The “Famous Jazz Orchestra”) to perform a weekly gig, he recruited Erik to play lead trumpet for him once again. It’s a position he’s continued to hold for over 20 years now, performing every Monday night.

In addition to playing with the FJO, Erik is a busy, sought after musician who also is a regular member of The Dave Banks Big Band in the Akron area. Other performance credits include: The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, The Paul Ferguson Jazz Orchestra, The Columbus Jazz Orchestra, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra led by Buddy Morrow, The Nelson Riddle Orchestra, The Artistic Jazz Orchestra, Ernie Krivda’s “Fat Tuesday Big Band”, The Rick Brunetto Big Band, The New Remnants Dance Orchestra, The O’Jays, and the “Chicago” style rock band “Direct Energy”.  Erik has also enjoyed working with entertainers Toni Tennille, Marie Osmond, Bobby Vincent, Don Rickles, and Joan Rivers, among others.

Erik also plays lead trumpet for the recently formed “Mansfield Jazz Orchestra” and from time to time, will front a jazz orchestra under his own name as well.

Erik can be heard playing on The Paul Ferguson Jazz Orchestra’s CD recording “Live at the Bop Stop”, and the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra’s “Jazz Vespers” CD.  He can also be heard on all of the Famous Jazz Orchestra’s CD recordings.


The staff at the Richland Academy shares in your desire for all to have an exceptional experience with the arts. The best way to see if the programs currently offered at the Academy are a fit for you is to request information »

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